All Hallow’s Eve

In the great silence of my favourite month,

October (the red of maples, the bronze of oaks,

A clear-yellow leaf here and there on birches),

I celebrated the standstill of time.

 

The vast country of the dead had its beginning everywhere:

At the turn of the tree-lined alley, cross park lawns.

But I did not have to enter, I was not called yet.

 

Motorboats pull up on the river bank, paths in pine needles.

It was getting dark early, no lights on the other side.

 

I was going to attend the ball of ghosts and witches.

A delegation would appear there in masks and wigs,

And dance, unrecognized, in the chorus of the living.

 

Czezlow Milosz

The Carts

            Poem Beginning with a Line of Yannis Ritsos

 

Outside passed the carts and the moon

And the moon and its reflection

Made a cart track for nameless souls

Across the lake without a name.

 

Michael Longley

The House of Rumour

after Ovid

At the world’s centre

between earth and sky and sea

is a place where every sound can be heard,

where everything is seen.

Here Rumour lives,

making her home on a mountain top.

This house stands open

night and day: a dome

of apertures and windows set

like a million eyes at gaze,

steady, unblinking,

no doors or shutters anywhere.

Here walls have ears.

The are ears. The whole house

made from thinly-beaten

resonating bronze, hums

constantly

with words repeating back to themselves

round and round, again

and again: the low susurration

of echoing sound.

No silence anywhere,

just the murmur of voices

like whispering waves

or the last low rolling crush of thunder.

The house is haunted by shadows,

ghosts that come and go, a host of rumours,

the false mixed with the true,

words and phrases, fact, fictions,

fabrications, all confused.

At every turn, a story spreads

and grows and changes, each new teller

adding on to what they’ve heard.

Here is surveillance, interception;

a multitude of recording angels.

Here live rash Credulity, reckless Error,

groundless Joy.  Whispers

make their home here, alongside

sudden Sedition, tremulous Fear.

Rumour herself

hears everything, sees

everything that happens in the heavens,

in the sea or on earth;

invigilator, sentinel, echo-chamber,

she misses nothing

misses no one as she sweeps the world.

Robin Robertson